Meet Debut Author Marlayne Giron

Nearly thirty years ago, Marlayne Giron began her debut novel. As a young woman in her early 20s, she wrote The Victor on an IBM Selectric typewriter. On April 14th, her long-time dream was realized when Tate Publishing released her allegorical medieval tale of the Gospels.

Marlayne’s faith has profoundly influenced her writing. Growing up in a Jewish home, she was raised with an anti-Christian bias. However, when she was seventeen, she accepted Christ as a direct result of watching Jesus of Nazareth by Franco Zefferelli and became a Messianic Jew.

When Marlayne asked if I’d interview her, I visited her Web site and was intrigued by her story. As she says in her answers, an allegory isn’t something published very often. What impressed me is her unwavering belief in her story. Despite a wait spanning three decades, during which she almost gave up hope, her story is now on the shelves.

Marlayne Giron is a career secretary who lives in Orange County, California with her husband, Michael, the love of her life for 23 years, her teen-aged daughter, Karina, who is rapidly turning her hair gray, and her Dachshund/Corgi mix (which, she says, makes him a “Daugi”) by the name of Buddy. Marlayne likes to read, cook, entertain, create book trailers, and scrapbook.

Join me as we learn more about Marlayne and her journey to publication.
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Marlayne Giron
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Marlayne’s Journey Begins

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•You began your story as a young woman. What was your writing background?

I’ve always been artistic and creative. I used to sew, embroider, and draw quite a bit. I had a good friend I met at the age of 12. On one of her visits, we lay on our stomachs, and she produced a typewritten story in which she had put us in as characters. We read it out loud to each other, and it was so much fun that I created a story for our next get-together. At that time, we were really into the Six Million Dollar Man television series, and we saved the day in each of our short stories–we must have written hundreds. We wrote and illustrated a “feature” length story, too, which I still have.

Lisa had always wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, and soon I found her red-marking my stories for spelling, punctuation, and grammar problems. I decided I would make sure she could find no errors in any future stories. This decision honed my English skills. Lisa is a creative, brilliant person, and was a big influence in my writing. I learned a lot of creative writing techniques from her.

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•What was the inspiration for The Victor? I know it’s an allegory of Christ’s love for the church, but what led you to use the medieval setting?

It all happened quite innocently enough. Almost thirty years ago I was listening to my new Amy Grant album Father’s Eyes and during the song “Fairytale” an image popped into my head when I heard her sing the following verse: “…two princes wage the battle for eternity but the victor has been known from the start.” I envisioned Jesus in a suit of “shining armor” and Satan/Lucifer in a suit of “black armor” crossing swords over a young maiden who represented the bride of Christ.

I instantly knew what I wanted my story to convey: the ultimate love story of all time between Christ and his bride, “the church,” and I knew how I wanted it to end. I just wasn’t exactly sure how it would begin or what I would put in between!

I have always loved books and movies dealing King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc., and fairytale stories with lords, ladies, knights, and mystical swords. I read the entire Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books in one weekend when I was 12, and it was the most magnificent story I have ever read to this day. Nothing compares to its majesty and sheer genius.

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•You call yourself a “very atypical author” and have said, “I am the most unlikely person to have a book published.” Why is that?

Several reasons! My complete lack of a formal education in creative writing (other than high school), and also the fact that The Victor is the only story I have ever felt inspired to write. I have observed that many published and would-be authors all seem to have a similar character trait in common: they constantly want to write and are filled with more story ideas than they have time for.

While I did try to get the book published in the late 80s/early 90’s, I was told it was an impossible feat. I was a total unknown, had never had anything published, and had no connections in the publishing industry. My story was not considered marketable by any publisher (Christian and secular alike). You can only beat your head against a brick wall for so long.

I gave up hope of The Victor ever being published for a good 15 years and had forgotten completely about it until six months before I decided to make another try. I was too busy being a mom, wife and career secretary. The most consistent writing I performed was business correspondence.
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Marlayne’s Process

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•Since you began writing your story in the days before computers and the Internet, you’ve seen many changes. How has your writing process evolved because of the technology and tools currently available? Have you added to or changed your story at all because of the wealth of resources now available at the click of a mouse?

Well, the advent of computers sure made correcting mistakes easier! Despite the state of technology at the time (or lack thereof), I wrote all of the The Victor on a typewriter. I did buy a book way back then called “Life in a Castle in Medieval England” as my research source, but everything else came out of my imagination and the books and movies that had influenced me.

I rewrote The Victor more times than I can count, both on typewriter and finally on personal computer. I deleted entire sections and added new ones–right up to the day when I was going into the final editing process this past year. A line in a crucial scene that I had never been happy with suddenly became obvious, and I let out with an audible DUH!

Current technology and the Internet have made promotion of the book and creating my own book trailer much easier and a lot less expensive! I understand it can cost several hundred dollars to pay an outside firm to create a book trailer, but I did mine using Power Point and free gifs I found on the Internet. The only things I had to pay for were conversion software and a licensed, royalty-free version of the music I used. (It is a Beethoven piano concerto, which I refer to as “the love theme from The Victor.” I think he wrote it just for me – that’s how perfect it is.)
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Peaks

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•After thirty years polishing your story, The Victor sold to Tate Publishing. Where were you when The Call came? What was your reaction? Did you squeal, do a happy dance or burst into tears?

I was at my job, sitting in my cubicle when Janey Hayes of Tate called. I had sent the story the August before and completely forgotten all about it, so at first I thought it was some sort of crank telemarketing call. After I understood what it was about, I was in a state of shock. I hung up the phone, turned to my cube partner and said, in a very calm but shocked voice, “A publisher just called me, and they want to publish my book!” She was very thrilled for me. I just sat there shaking my head in disbelief. It was a very surreal moment–and it still is.

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•I read a review on Examiner.com by Kelly Kiggins-Lund in which she says you weave “an allegorical story that I believe compares to that of C. S. Lewis in his series The Chronicles of Narnia.” High praise indeed. What are your thoughts when you read such comments and see the impact your book is having?

Actually those were my exact words in response to her comment: “High praise indeed.” But to answer your question in a few words: gratifying and validating.

You have to understand that for 30 years I begged and practically offered to pay people to read my story. Quite honestly, I really didn’t know if The Victor was any good or how I rated against other published authors. I was so tired of reading it after years of rewrites I couldn’t be objective anymore.

One of the best compliments I got was from my editor at Tate, Wayne Lin. I’d expected a more rigorous review than I received. He explained that he got so caught up in the story and characters he forgot about reading it with a critical eye.

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Valleys

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•You made numerous attempts to get your story published through the years, so you know all about rejection. What enabled you to persevere when publication seemed so elusive?

I can’t honestly say this was a case of perseverance since I really did give up on it after trying off and on for 10 years. The only reason I ended up looking for and finding Tate Publishing was at the suggestion of my old friend, Lisa, who suggested I look into online publishing. I did a quick search for Christian Publishers, found Tate, uploaded the manuscript in August of 2007 and forgot all about it until the following April when I received The Call.

I had always harbored a wish deep in my heart that someday, somehow The Victor would be published. Now is that time. If my story had been published back in the 1980’s or early 1990’s when I had submitted it to publishers, there would have been no Internet, no YouTube, no social network sites, no email, no cheap or effective ways of getting the word out on The Victor.

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•A year ago you were told by a literary agent at a local Christian writer’s conference that no publisher would want to publish your book. That had to be discouraging. Why did the agent say that, and how did you respond to the news?

I only got a total of five minutes with this agent. I had to summarize what the book was about in less than a minute only to have him tell me no one would want to publish it because it was an allegory. I left this conference depressed and discouraged. Not only did the literary agent tell me this but also a well known and much loved published author concurred with him.

I was also told my story was too blatant to submit to a secular publisher. This was at the same time that the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were making big box office money in theaters!

By a strange “coincidence,” the same week I attended this writer’s conference was the same week the book contract from Tate arrived. God had opened just the one door, and I walked right in with gratitude and high hopes. I literally walked on air for four months after signing the contract!
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Partners on Marlayne’s Journey

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•You wrote for many years before the Internet enabled us to become acquainted with other writers or to locate potential critique partners. Who did you turn to for feedback during that time?

Early in the writing of my first draft, I got some critical input from a submission editor who worked for Multnomah Press, and several years ago I got a critique of my first chapter while taking a writing course at my local Biola College. More recently, my husband offered some very good critiques about logical and historical inconsistencies, and a technical editor friend of his did the same.

I also have to credit my BFF, Janet Francis, who is a career secretary like me, for volunteering to review the manuscript despite the fact that she doesn’t generally like my kind of fiction. It was very encouraging when she told me she could hardly wait to get home from work each day to continue reading the book during her review process and that she found it hard to put down!
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Marlayne’s Journey Continues

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The Victor has been your focus for three decades, but it’s now on the shelves. What next? Do you have another medieval allegory planned or something new?

It was never my heart’s desire to become a published author; it was my heart’s desire to see The Victor published. There is a big difference. While I enjoy writing and think I’m good at it, I have no plans for another book unless struck with another inspiration, despite frequent requests for a sequel from those who have already read it.

Right now, my focus is marketing The Victor and trying to get the word out. If I did write another story related to The Victor, it would probably be a prequel rather than a sequel, exploring the history of some of the more interesting major characters.

If The Victor ever becomes a “success” in any sense of the word, there will be no doubt in my mind that it was due to a divine miracle of God! I would consider all the work, heartache, rejection and disappointment I experienced throughout the years worth it if just one person finds the Lord as a result of reading my book.
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The VictorMarlayne’s “Firstborn”

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•Please tell us a little about The Victor.

The Victor is a parable of the Bible’s major themes of the fall of Satan and man, and the redemption of Christ’s bride, the church, in the form of a medieval fantasy/fiction for ages 12 to 80.  It is the classic tale of good against evil.

Who will emerge the victor?

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Five Fun Facts About Marlayne

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~ When The Victor came out in print, I sent a cover letter and two copies of the book to Amy Grant: one which I autographed for her, thanking her for the inspiration and the second for her to autograph and return to me, which she did.

~ I wrote and illustrated a short fiction story in which Jesus introduces my character to the man He had chosen as my future husband five years before I actually met him. The future husband in the fiction story and the real thing were both named Michael (I also always prayed for him in advance by this name). I met Michael, who looked just like my illustration, on a triple date. That night one of the other women told him he’d marry me, but he didn’t’ believe it. Five years later, we were married.

~ I accepted Jesus as my Savior during Easter Week; I met my future husband during Easter Week; and my book, The Victor, was released in Easter Week. A “coincidence”? I think not.

~ After major surgery made it impossible for me to conceive and five years of heartache with a failed attempt at alternative methods, my husband and I came to the conclusion that the only way we’d have a family was to adopt. Two weeks before Christmas and a year before it was supposed to happen, we were introduced to our daughter, Karina Marie, who was an adorable 3-1/2 year old at the time. We visited with her over the course of the next week or so, and she came home as our daughter on Christmas Eve.

~ I used to take private ice-skating lessons and got rather good (I could do jumps and spins), and I still miss it a lot. I hope heaven has an ice-rink where I can ice-skate for the Lord and do the doubles, axels and footwork I found impossible to do in my 20’s. Does that mean that heaven has to freeze over?
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Marlayne’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Marlayne. Now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors. What would you like to know?

If you’ve read or watched The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings triology, what aspects of those stories most impressed you? What do you think of allegories that retell great stories?
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Learn More About Marlayne

Visit her Web site: www.thevictorbook.com

Friend her on Facebook: Marlayne Giron

Follow her on Twitter: thevictorbook
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Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win

My next drawing will take place June 20th. The winner will receive a travel-friendly fabric tote bag just the right size for a day trip or errand run.
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Tote bag prize
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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by June 20th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On June 21st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.
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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and June 30th. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On July 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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14 Responses to Meet Debut Author Marlayne Giron

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Marlayne. It’s nice to have you here and to have the opportunity to get to know more about you, your journey to publication and your debut novel.

    What impressed me most about the Chronicles of Narnia was the relationship between Aslan and Lucy and the faith she had in him and his ability to bring about the best for her, no matter what situation she found herself in.

  2. thevictorbook says:

    Keli – thank you so much for this opportunity – I am so impressed with the interviews of all the other authors on this site and their struggles to bring “their babies” into this world for others to enjoy!
    Marlayne

  3. Great interview, Keli. You did a wonderful job of capturing the essence that is Marlayne. I think The Victor will be a great outreach to everyone who reads it.

  4. Quilt Lady says:

    Welcome Marlayne, it is very nice meeting you. I love reading debute books and meeting new authors. Great interview and one thing I learned from it. It is not always very easy to get your book published. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Kelly. It’s been fun learning more about Marlayne. What an incredible journey she’s taken. And now her “baby” is here!

  6. thevictorbook says:

    Thank you Quilt Lady – it’s wonderful to meet you too! The publication of The Victor is my life’s dream come true and a big miracle! Hope we can get to be better friends. If you would like to correspond directly, my email is thevictorbook@sbcglobal.net

  7. Anne Barton says:

    Marlayne, what a cool story. I love that you persisted until you reached your goal of getting The Victor into print. Sending Amy Grant 2 copies of the book was inspired! Both copies will be great keepsakes. 🙂

    Congrats on the great reviews and on writing the story of your heart. The cover is gorgeous, and I love the vintage look of it. 🙂

    –Anne

  8. Marlayne says:

    Anne – thanks so much! I love the cover too – I think it is a great eye-grabber. Amy Grant isn’t the only “celebrity” who has a copy. If you visit my website/blog tab – there are quite a few other notable people who I have been able to get copies to. Not sure if they have read the book yet but it couldn’t hurt, right?

  9. Lynn Rush says:

    Very cool story. Wow, 30 years? Amy Grant? Nice! Inspiring.

  10. thevictorbook says:

    Thanks, Lynn! Sometimes it’s hard to even believe it’s happened myself! I’m black and blue from pinching! 🙂

    Marlayne

  11. Thank you so much, Keli, for giving me this opportunity! I thoroughly enjoyed participating in your wonderful blog! It’s a great way to introduce new writers and their works to others with the same interests!

    God bless you!
    Marlayne

  12. Caroline says:

    Hi Mary,
    Congratulations on your Super Romance! That is very exciting. I also write about cowboys but historically…

    I enjoyed your story and about your road to publication. I would love to dogsled one day. It’s been a dream of mine.

  13. Caroline says:

    Opps, Marlayne….
    I need my coffee.

  14. Fabulous interview!

    PS. Don’t enter me in the contest. Mary’s one of my CP’s so I already have a copy.

Comments are closed.